NI protocol had 'unintended consequences on the oven ready Brexit deal' says Truss

13 June 2022, 18:02 | Updated: 14 June 2022, 09:37

The Government has unveiled plans to tear up the NI Protocol.
The Government has unveiled plans to tear up the NI Protocol. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

The Foreign Secretary has lashed out at the EU for threatening to take legal action after the UK unveiled plans to tear up the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Liz Truss admitted the NI protocol had thrown up "unintended consequences" of the "oven ready Brexit deal" but insisted the EU will be "no worse off" under the new proposals.

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, Ms Truss said: "Well first of all the reason why we are doing this is to protect the Belfast Good Friday Agreement and the political stability of Ireland.

"We need to sort out these issues about east west trade we need to make sure the people of Northern Ireland can access the same tax benefits as the people of Great Britain.

"And our proposal which we are putting forward in the bill and are legislating on make the EU no worse off. They continue to protect the single market we are supplying the EU with commercial data about everything that crosses the Irish sea, we’ve got enforcement to make sure nobody is violating the green channel and sending goods into the Republic of Ireland.

"So there simply is no reason Nick for the EU to take any action, this legislation does not make them any worse off at all.

"It’s simply not working and if something isn’t working then it is the responsibility of the United Kingdom Government to act."

The UK Government tabled domestic legislation to unilaterally override the parts of Brexit's Northern Ireland Protocol that have introduced trade barriers in the Irish Sea on Monday.

However, European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic said the EU viewed the decision with "significant concern".

Speaking at the commission headquarters in Brussels, Mr Sefcovic said the unilateral action by the UK could put the access of Northern Ireland businesses to the EU single market at risk.

He said the commission would now look at restarting "infringement proceedings" against the UK which have been on hold since September 2021.

Read more: Nancy Pelosi threatens to block US/UK trade deal over Northern Ireland Protocol plans

Read more: EU 'playing fast and loose' with peace in Northern Ireland, ex-DUP leader warns

"It is with significant concern that we take note of today's decision by the UK Government to table legislation disapplying core elements of the protocol. Unilateral action is damaging to mutual trust," he said.

"In particular, the protocol provides business operators in Northern Ireland with access to the EU single market for goods. The UK Government's approach puts this access - and related opportunities - at risk.

"Our aim will always be to secure the implementation of the protocol. Our reaction to unilateral action by the UK will reflect that aim and will be proportionate."

Earlier on Monday, Boris Johnson said planned changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol are "trivial" and do not break international law.

He insisted the plans are "not a big deal" while the Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the UK is "acting within international law".

Speaking to LBC's Tonight with Andrew Marr, Northern Ireland Minister Conor Burns said the new legislation is "absolutely worth it", despite concerns from other countries, including the US.

He claimed the Government is "doing the right thing" by making changes to the Brexit deal and said overriding the Northern Ireland Protocol is lawful.

He also suggested the Government won't sell out the people of Britain and Northern Ireland to get a US trade deal.

He told Andrew: “On the (US) trade deal the idea that the UK would not do the right thing by our citizens by our country in pursuit of a trade deal. Goodness me, no self respecting country in the world would muddy the interests of their citizens with a trade deal.

"We’re not doing that. We want a trade deal with the US, of course we do, but we want to do the right thing by the people of Northern Ireland by the people of the UK to recalibrate and fix the interpretation and application of the NI protocol and that’s what this legislation seeks to do."

What has the Government proposed?

Green channels

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has proposed creating green and red channels to differentiate between GB goods destined for use in Northern Ireland and shipments bound for onward transportation across the Irish border.

Goods arriving through the green channel would be freed of red tape, while the red channel would retain the checks and inspections required by the protocol.

Dual regulatory framework

The introduction of a dual regulatory system to allow businesses selling in Northern Ireland to choose whether they comply with EU standards, UK standards or both.

Changes to tax

Changing rules on state subsidies and VAT and excise duties to ensure Northern Ireland is not excluded from UK-wide policy decisions in these areas as a result of EU laws.

New governance arrangements

Reform of the protocol governance arrangements to remove the European Court of Justice as the final arbitrator in any future trade disputes over the protocol.

However, the EU were not the only ones to criticise the plans.

A majority of MLAs in the Stormont Assembly have signed a joint letter to Boris Johnson stating their opposition to proposed legislation to amend the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The letter has been signed by 52 of the 90 MLAs, representing Sinn Fein, the SDLP and the Alliance Party.

Sinn Fein Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill is among the signatories, but DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson highlighted that all unionist MLAs opposed the protocol.

In a tweet, Ms O'Neill described the "unilateral actions of Boris Johnson" as "utterly reckless".

"It is clearly a breach of International Law. The impact on our businesses & economy could be colossal. The pro-protocol parties have jointly written to Boris Johnson today to firmly reject his legislation and approach," she tweeted.